Winter is coming. Even though Tel Aviv, being a beach city in the Middle East, doesn’t typically suffer harsh winters, it can often get cold enough to make you crave a comforting bowl of soup. Luckily for you, the city’s food scene, and specifically its Asian food scene, is so vibrant and diverse that you could satisfy the wildest of your winter cravings.
From restaurants serving the traditional version of your favourite soup to fusion creations combining different flavours and cuisines, Tel Aviv has it, and this post will tell you exactly where to find it.
Hong Kong Dim Sum is a small, modest gem adored by Tel Aviv foodies, and maybe the only truly authentic dim sum joint in the heart of the city. As well as dim sum, they also serve wonton soup with either chicken, pork or vegetable dumplings and a choice of rice or egg noodles. The toppings on the soup, which include cabbage, carrots and wakame seeds, may not be as authentic as the dim sum, but they too add to the aroma and flavour of this delicious meal.
The year 2017 was the ‘year of ramen’ in Tel Aviv, with restaurants popping up around the city selling variations of the Japanese staple dish, and the craze is not about to pass. One of the most beloved venues to get your ramen fix is at Chef Israel Aharoni’s Hiro, with its first outlet in the Sarona Market and a restaurant in Levontin. The menu includes classic porky versions of the soup as well as chicken, spicy beef, and vegan variations.
The Bun is much more than just buns. This small restaurant in the heart of Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market) is responsible for some of the city’s best soups. Their miso salmon soup, ramen variations and Laksa are some of the best Asian street food dishes you can get in Tel Aviv. Their Laksa dish is made with grilled sea bass, seafood stock and some lime and coconut milk, and its spiciness is bound to warm you up on a cold winter evening.
Hanoi is a small Vietnamese restaurant offering dishes with Malaysian, Cambodian, and other Asian flavours, as well as traditional Vietnamese dishes such as banh mi, bun cha, and, of course, pho soup. Their beef stock with rice noodles, fresh herbs and bean sprouts is available with either chicken or beef; there is also a vegetarian version. This soup is like an Asian/Jewish penicillin – it is comforting, healthy, filling, and best of all, delicious.
Nithan Thai’s Tel Aviv outlet is one of the city’s top restaurants. Led by Chef Shahaf Shabtai, the menu offers fusion dishes integrating Thai cuisine with influences from other Asian cuisines. The Kokki Soup is a great example of such a meal. The mix of Thai Udon, sake broth, raw salmon, wakame, shimaji mushrooms and coriander create a wonderful and unusual blend of flavours.
Yet another market ramen bar, this time set in the new and hot Rothschild-Allenby Market, Men Tenten is as traditional as a Japanese izakaya can get in Israel. The restaurant, which opened at the beginning of 2017, features bar seating across from the open kitchen, while the different meal options vary from a traditional pork ramen to chicken options and even a vegan ramen, as well as Japanese izakaya side dishes such as gyoza dumplings and yakitori sticks.
Thai House, which many describe as Tel Aviv’s best restaurant, is an excellent establishment. Ask any Tel Avivian foodie where to get the best Thai food in the city, and they’ll point you in that direction. Unsurprisingly, their Tom Yum soup does not fail. It is sour, spicy and aromatic; basically, it’s everything you want your Tom Yum to be, and more. Much more.
Fifi’s is quite a unique place. With only about a dozen seats (including the two stools and table found inside a converted tuk-tuk on the pavement outside the front door), Fifi’s will make you feel like you arrived somewhere in eastern Asia. The menu is not limited to any traditional Asian cuisine, nor is it traditional in any way. With blue-coloured glass noodles and roasted onions with dried beef, it is only natural that their version of the Vietnamese Pho soup will be unusual. Made with goose meat, a half-boiled egg and a very rich broth, this is a great option for those looking to try something new.